Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Hakkōda Ropeway to Yakeyama, the Prelude to Oirase Gorge

While you might know of or have been to the beautiful Oirase Gorge, did you know that there are other scenic spots in the area, such as Hakkōda Ropeway (八甲田ロープウェー) or Tsuta-Numa Pond (蔦沼)? Onsen ryokans which have a long history, are also scattered in this part of Aomori Prefecture. So read on to find out more!

To get to Oirase Gorge by public transport, you can either take a bus from JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅) throughout the year or from JR Aomori (青森駅) and Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅) between mid-April to mid-November (as the services terminate at Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉) in winter for this line). If you choose to travel down south from Aomori, then the JR bus will definitely take you straight to the Hakkōda Ropeway (in winter as well)!

Refer to our How to Get to the Picturesque Oirase Gorge article for more access information in the area.

Before we go into too much detail, below is a list of attractions in the area!

Hakkōda Ropeway (八甲田ロープウェー)

Ropeways are not cheap to build. So if a ropeway is built at a location, the scenery from the ropeway is bound to be amazing. Not only is the Hakkōda Ropeway known for its great view, but they are also known for its skiing and snowboarding courses from the Summit Station (山麓・山頂駅).

For more information about the ropeway and attractions around it, please refer to our article on Hakkōda Ropeway!

Hakkoda Ropeway Aomori Japan Autumn
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Jōgakura Onsen (城ヶ倉温泉)

Jogakura Onsen Aomori Japan
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Jōgakura Onsen is a European-style onsen resort located between Hakkōda Ropeway and the beautiful Oirase Gorge.

If your itinerary isn’t so packed, why not enjoy a few hours of trekking or even hiking from the Summit Station of the Hakkōda Ropeway and spend the night there? This would be the place to unwind and rest your tired feet so that you will be full of energy as you explore Oirase Gorge the next day!

Apart from their really delicious dinner and breakfast (with ingredients sourced freshly and locally), their outdoor onsen facility can also be enjoyed throughout the year!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to bathe in the light green-colored virgin beech forest in spring and summer, vibrant autumn leaves in the fall and pure-white snow in winter?

HERE is the link to their official English website. Please also refer to the below information that may be useful in the event you decide to make a reservation (=゚ω゚)ノ.

About Jōgakura Onsen

  • There is a free pick-up service from the police station in front of JR Aomori Station (青森駅), departing at 3:30 pm each day. If you require this service, please reserve 3 days in advance.
  • There are also free pick-up and drop-off services to and from Sukayu Onsen and Jōgakura Bridge. Please let the resort know when you would like to be picked up and dropped off.
  • If you enjoy stargazing, there is equipment that the resort may rent out to their guests. Please check with the reception on the day for more information and its availability.
  • The resort provides a backcountry ski tour, but you will need to hold basic Japanese skills to participate.
  • There are no private onsen facilities available, but you can reserve the rooms that come with a small onsen pool.
  • Not all room types have shower facilities equipped
  • There are washing machines and dryers available if you need them (not free, though)

Tip: If you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform them of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Jōgakura Bridge (城ヶ倉大橋)

Jōgakura Bridge is located just 30 minutes walk from Jōgakura Onsen (but if you stay at Jogakura Onsen, the resort will provide free pick-up and drop-off services).

With 255 meters in length, the bridge is the longest arch bridge in Japan (‘ω’)ノ.

From the bridge, you will get a panoramic view of the mountains around you. The spot is particularly famous for its autumn foliage, ranking within the top 5 in North-Eastern Japan!

Jogakura Bridge Aomori Japan
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The winter wonderland bridge view is another reason why so many people love this bridge (*´ω`).

Jogakura Bridge Aomori Japan Winter

Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉)

Sukayu Onsen Aomori Japan Autumn
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Another popular destination between the Hakkōda Ropeway and Oirase Gorge is Sukayu Onsen.

Sukayu Onsen is probably most famously known for its mixed-gender onsen – Hiba Senin Furo (ヒバ千人風呂). And yes, when we say mixed-gender, it is a public bathing facility that both genders can use at the SAME TIME Σ(゚Д゚).

There is also a Sukayu Onsen Campsite (酸ヶ湯キャンプ場) close to it, so if you are interested, refer to our article on Sukayu Onsen!

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Hakkōda Snow Corridor (八甲田雪の回廊) and Hakkōda/Towada Gold Line (八甲田・十和田ゴールドライン)

Hakkoda Snow Corridor Aomori Japan
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

If a visit to a snow corridor is on your bucket list, instead of going to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route‘s snow corridor (which is usually packed with people), why not visit the snow corridor close to Sukayu Onsen instead?

Hakkōda/Towada Gold Line is the driveway (National Highway no. 102 and 103) that connects Lake Towada with the foot Hakkōda Mountains.

As the road connecting Hakkōda Hotel (八甲田ホテル) close to Sukayu Onsen and Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉) is closed during the winter, the 10-meter tall snow corridor will be the unintended product of preparation before the road is opened for traffic again from April each year!

The best time to visit the corridor is in early April. But even during Golden Week at the beginning of May, the snow wall will still be approximately as tall as you are (^_-)-☆

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

How to Get to the Hakkōda Snow Corridor

To get to the snow corridor, if you are using public transport, you can take JR Bus Mizuumi (みずうみ号) and get off at Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉). From there, head for National Highway 103 (国道103号線) towards Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉). It shouldn’t take you too long before you see the corridor!

  • From Aomori:
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop no. 11 or bus stop no. 1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit.
  • From Lake Towada (only accessible from mid-Apr to mid-Nov):
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō from JR Tohoku Bus Nenokuchi Station (ジェイアールバス東北 子ノ口駅)

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

The Picturesque Ponds Between Sukayu Onsen and Tsuta Onsen

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

In between the Sukayu Onsen and Tsuta Onsen (more details below), you will find nine unique ponds (or swamps if you like) that are definitely worth a visit (=゚ω゚)ノ. Among the nine, six of them are even linked by a promenade!

To plan your visit to those gorgeous ponds, please refer to our article HERE (^_-)-☆

Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉)

Located around the middle between Suiren-numa Pond and Tsuta-numa Pond, Yachi Onsen, which has a history of more than 400 years, is one of Japan’s Three Secret Onsen (日本三秘湯). The other two are the Iya Onsen (祖谷温泉) in Tokushima and Niseko Yakushi Onsen (ニセコ薬師温泉) in Hokkdaidō.

The good thing about Yachi Onsen is there are two onsen pools with different temperatures. Both have a sulfur-based hot spring. What most Japanese do is, jump between the two hot spring pools. The one with a lower temperature is basically for them to cool down a bit after it gets too hot in the 42 degrees onsen pool.

The hot spring pools are generally open 24 hours a day except between 9 am to 10 am when cleaning takes place.

Important: Each day between 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm is when you can head to the hot spring pools that are normally for the opposite gender. So keep an eye on the clock to fully enjoy Yachi Onsen!

Tip: As the hot spring of the ryokan is open for day visitors from 10 am to 5 pm, heading to the onsen pools at another time slot can mean enjoying the entire bathing space to yourself. If you are a day visitor, it will cost you 800 yen to bathe at Yachi Onsen.

Taking a Stroll to Yachi Wetlands and Yachi River

As one of Japan’s most famous Three Secret Onsen, Yachi Onsen is hidden in the mountains of Hakkōda. The ryokan is surrounded by a massive beech forest. And close to it, you can observe many native-grown wetlands plants at Yachi Wetlands (谷地湿原).

Along the promenade in the beech forest, there are also a couple of observatories that give you a wide view of the Hakkōda mountain ranges and the wetland. You can also stroll along the Yachi River, where you can see trouts (岩魚) swimming freely.

From December to April, when the area is covered by thick snow, instead of trying to spot a trout, you will find a cute wild marten that is somehow commonly seen at the riverside of the ryokan.

Things to Watch out for at Yachi Onsen

As a hidden hot spring resort with a long history, some might find the facility old and outdated. But, isn’t that what we go to Japan to experience? For the fashionable and modern bath, one of the high-class hotels in our own country can fulfil the desire.

One thing to be aware of is the walls in this ryokan are thin. This means if you, unfortunately, have a noisy neighbor, it might affect your sleep.

Also, the floorboards are quite old. They will produce some loud sounds when you walk on them.

Regarding the toilet and shower facility, they don’t have a private onsen pool you can rent out. And, except for their Genshi no Ma (源氏の間), all their rooms don’t come with a private toilet and washing basin. You will have to use the communal toilets and washing basin. It goes without saying, none of their rooms has a shower facility.

Lastly, there is almost no mobile reception in the area. But you can use the free Wi-Fi in the ryokan.

Tip: Let the hotel know in advance of your special dietary requirements. They will try their best to cater.

How to Get to Yachi Onsen

There are two ways you can get to Yachi Onsen without having to drive.

  • Take the JR Bus Mizuumi-go from late April to early November and get off at Yachi Onsen. The ryokan is just a 6-minute walk from the bus stop.
  • Reserving a spot with the hotel for its free pick-up and drop-off service
    • From April to November: the service departs from JR Aomori Station at 1:30 pm and at 1:45 pm from JR Shin-Aomori Station (where the bullet trains stop at)
      • The returning service departs from the ryokan at 10 am
    • From December to March: the service departs from JR Hachinohe Station at 1:40 pm
    • To reserve, please call them at least 3 days in advance at +81-176-74-1181. If you don’t speak Japanese, you can ask your hotel’s staff to call on your behalf after you land in Japan.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan (蔦温泉旅館)

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan Onsen Pool
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

This traditional Japanese Ryokan isn’t only just conveniently located close to the famous Tsuta-numa pond. Its biggest attraction is its onsen pool which is directly built above the source of the onsen (=゚ω゚)ノ.

So unlike most of the onsen pools in Japan, you will see a lot of bubbles coming right from the bottom of the pool, which we think is quite exciting!

Tsuta Onsen currently has two bathing areas. The Kyuan no Yu (久安の湯) is the area that you may want to watch out for because each gender for use is allocated to specific timeslots. Please check with the reception for the timeslots to avoid any potentially embarrassing moments…(´▽`*).

What to Watch out for Before You Make Your Booking

There are quite a few different types of rooms at Tsuta Onsen. Some are equipped with Western bedding, and some only have Japanese futon beds.

The other thing to note is that before you book, there are only 3 room types (with the luxurious ones containing a private bath). So if you don’t want to share your relaxing bathing time with strangers, you may consider reserving the luxurious ones (‘ω’)ノ.

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan Aomori Japan Gustroom
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

HERE is the link to their official English website. Please also find below information that may be useful if you do decide to make a reservation (=゚ω゚)ノ

About Tsuta Onsen

  • Tsuta Onsen is closed from late November to the end of March.
  • There is free pick-up (at 3 pm) and drop-off (at 9:30 am) services to and from Shichinohe Towada Station (七戸十和田駅). The meeting point is at the Shichinohe Town Tourism Information Center (七戸町観光交流センター), located at the station’s south exit.
  • If you want to be surrounded by fireflies, consider visiting Tsuta Onsen in July.
  • Please don’t bring in food when you stay at Tsuta Onsen. Bringing your own drinks will be allowed, but this will incur extra charges.
  • There is a private onsen you can reserve for 3,300 yen. Please speak to the reception upon arrival if you want to utilise it.
  • If you are a day visitor, it will cost 800 yen to bathe at Tsuta Onsen (500 yen for elementary school students).
    • A hand towel costs 250 yen to purchase
    • A bath towel costs 500 yen to rent.
    • You can bathe between 10 am to 3 pm.
      • The last admission is at 2:30 pm.

Tip: If you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform them of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Yakeyama (焼山)

 Towada city

Yakeyama area is said to be the entrance (or the goal if you are coming from Lake Towada) to Oirase Gorge. As a base for visitors to rejuvenate from hiking and trekking, the area has a number of restaurants, ryokans/hotels, a ski resort, and even the most temperamental Ginkgo in Japan!

For more information, please refer to our article on Yakeyama!

Your Guide to the Stunning Oirase Gorge

After arriving at Yakeyama, your scenic journey shouldn’t just stop there!

The 14 km Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流) in Aomori prefecture is known as one of Japan’s most scenic spots. No matter which season you visit Oirase Gorge, you will definitely be amazed by its ethereal beauty (*´ω`).

Click the photo to find out more about Oirase Gorge!

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